2003 BMW M5 consumer reviews

$70,400 starting MSRP
side view of 2003 M5 BMW
70% of drivers recommend this car
Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.2
  • Interior design 4.2
  • Performance 4.7
  • Value for the money 3.8
  • Exterior styling 4.5
  • Reliability 3.4
Explore the 2003 BMW M5

Timeless automotive classic - but not for everyone

I purchased a 2002 with 130K miles and drove it as my daily driver until the timing chain guides gave out at around 240K. I liked it so much that I bought another one for a preposterously low price at the beginning of the pandemic, which I still own. BMW is primarily an engine builder. This engine just feels so good, especially from 3500 rpm up, and it is extremely comfortable on long trips (lack of rear leg room is a common complaint though). There is a reason why the E39 M5 was one of the preferred Cannonball Run cars! It is heavy at around 4,000 pounds, but the handling is predictable and responsive and it is fun to get this car sideways. The old navigation system is showing its age, but at least you can easily add aux cable support and the Sirius satellite radio module. Don't get me started on how awful the cup holders are - certainly the most common complaint about E39s in general. High mileage cars are always a risk - particularly BMWs with lots of options - and especially if the previous owner didn't keep up with everything. You don't want one of these if you can't afford to light $5K on fire to fix e.g. an engine problem when you least expect it. That said, this is one of the most reliable engines BMW ever made, especially if you have a code reader and keep up with pre-emptive maintenance (e.g. timing chain tensioners! Ask me how I know.) The ideal owner of this car is a weekend mechanic who can do most of the maintenance, especially the cooling system, control arms, and bushings. BMW designs their suspension components to be regular wear items, and the parts are surprisingly inexpensive except for the front shock absorbers. M5s are not great cars for showing off - most people have no idea what an M5 is. To the untrained eye it just looks like a boring family sedan that your accountant might drive. That said, you will regularly encounter people who give a thumbs up or want to do a quick drag race. This car was the BMW flagship model during their most dominant years. if you enjoy a manual transmission, rear wheel drive, 4 doors, and want to enjoy a piece of automotive history, you simply can't do better than this car.


Unreliable, doesn't live up to the hype.

I purchased a higher mileage e39 m5 and the car was in the shop every month for repairs. At ~20 years old, the plastic is already brittle and worn, rubber is failing. There was abnormal, excessive oil consumption. Maintenance/repairs came out to a ridiculous $1 for every 1 mile driven. You do the math. The prices on these cars are ridiculously high and it's a bubble just waiting to burst. If you need a daily driver AND don't have an unlimited credit card, avoid buying this car.



Seats were way to stiff, and no where near as plush as the Mercedes c class. The ride was also too stiff and just bumpy for lack of a better word. Also in corners didn't exactly give you the sensation that you were on rails as many other top of the line German engineered cars do. Other things to complain about would be the bland design inside, the average sound system, the cheap and easy to break cup holders, and most of all the fact that i had it in the shop for some considerable repairs 3 times within the first 2 years of purchasing it.The worst of which was the cam sensor failing, and the timing belt breaking. While the outside of the car looks great with the body styling, performance rims, and dual exhaust its a shame to say i regret buying this car. I feel i should have gone with my gut instinct and bought Mercedes, or even Audi.


future classic

The E39 M5 is used as a yardstick for modern sedans yet the car has been out of production for 11 years. Good reasons: It has a high quality roomy interior (although rather plain) combined with a smallish exterior size, very powerful but economical engine (mine does 24 highway @ 65 mph, 21.5 mpg overall for the last 18,000 miles), solid body, famous handling. The negatives: Regular mechanical upkeep is required and can be expensive. Clutch wears quickly if abused (mine has 50,000 miles and is still okay). Gearshift is notchy. Audio/Nav units are crude by current standards. In summary, an extremely fast, solid, comfortable, fun to drive family sedan that will be fondly remembered 20 years from now.



This car is the beat well rounded car ever. The fastest production car when it came to the market. You can seat 4 people with lots of room. And the car really moves for being 4k pounds. Push in the sport button and it's like it picks up 60 more HP and grips the road great. They only brought 10,000 cars from this third GEN M5 (with the s62 motor, which is a modified 4.4L from the 540 bored out to make 4.94L engine) I get so many looks and people love seeing my car. There will not be too many of these original left after another 3-5 years and with 394HP and 367lbs torque for the price. FYI though, find a mechanic who can work on your car because the cost of bring this thing into BMW shop is expensive so have someone lined up before you go out and just trust everything those scammers say. Lots of things to look for when buging one of these so be careful.


great but pricy

great car for performance car enthusiast or a couple times a week ride.I bought mine used,and performance,handling were amazing! acceleration mind blowing. but withing a year and a half needed so much maintanace i could barely keep up,and depreciation is crazy.Great car but comes with a steep price.Would i buy another one-probably not.


Dream car realized

I love this car. I have had a 525,540,M3 and now the king the E39 M5. It is a wolf in a sheeps clothing. Daily driver for sure but a sportscar when you push the pedal. Its great on long or short trips and the sport button is s blast. The styling is my favorite or any BMW ever made clean lines and no wasted steel. This car is the best sedan that I have ever seen, there are no comparisons.


My wife cried when it left for its new home.

From the day I first drove the e39 M5 I wanted one however I didn't want a used one and as they stopped production in MY2003 I decided to wait for the e60 M5. When it came out with only SMG I found a low mileage e39 LeMans Blue still in warranty and didn't regret it. This car will be a great addition to anyonye's garage and at times I still miss it but after bringing home her replacement, a MY2008 e60 M5, I don't see my wife thinking about her old girl any more.


Best all around sports sedan you can own...

I can't say enough good about the E36 M5. I bought a used low mile 2003 M5 a year ago and it lives up to all the praise it gets. The acceleration and handling are increadible, but is capable of being a daily driver. I think it's the best performance sedan for the money! Comfort and a rare level of performance for a car of this size and flexability. You have to drive it to know what all the hype is about.


Should have never sold it.

Over the years I have owned more than a dozen BMW's. From a few 3 series including an M3, almost all 5 series models, a 740il, couple of X5s (including the 4.8is), and the Z8 my wife still has. Of all these cars, and the 911 I have now, the M5 was the best, most rounded car. The only car I can think of where you can seat 4 people in comfort, with an incredible list of features including the best sound system I have ever seen, and still handle, and drive like a competent race car.